Victim identified in Mount Dora barbershop shooting

Aftermath of shooting was streamed on Facebook, police say

MOUNT DORA, Fla. – Police have identified a Mount Dora barbershop owner who was shot to death Friday evening during a dispute about the price of a haircut.

Wilfredo Nieves was found dead on the floor of the barbershop when Mount Dora police arrived at 6:38 p.m.

"He's real nice. He's kindhearted. He's doing the right thing. He's got his own business to try to earn money for his kids and his family," witness Nicole Russell said.

Police said Ryan Thornhill, 36, came to the barbershop and sat in the waiting area for about 40 minutes, occasionally mumbling to himself.

Witnesses said he was holding a brown bottle with a white label and seemed to be under the influence because he was having difficulty standing and walking, according to an arrest affidavit.

When it was Thornhill's turn to get his hair cut, he said he had only $2. Nieves told Thornhill that he needed $12 for a haircut, police said.

Nieves escorted Thornhill out of the barbershop, telling him that he didn't have enough money and seemed too intoxicated.

Thornhill returned about 15 minutes later, walked over to Nieves and shot him in the head at nearly point-blank range, the report said.

Police said Thornhill pointed the gun in a sweeping motion at the other people in the barbershop.

"(The witness) stated that he believed that Thornhill intended to kill the victim and everyone else in the shop," the police report said.

Several people in the shop tackled Thornhill to the floor and wrestled the gun from his hands. Police said Thornhill's gun had more rounds in it.

Mount Dora police Detective Patricia Thomas said one of the witnesses at the scene streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live.

The video shows Thornhill lying on the ground while panicked witnesses wait for police to arrive. One man pushes a bench to hit Thornhill and another kicks and stomps him in the back. When Thornhill tries to stand up, the men beat him into submission, according to the video.

"They felt like their life was in danger, so they did what they felt was necessary to protect themselves and other people that were there and they were on (the) phone also calling 911," Thomas said.

Thornhill was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center when police arrived.

Thomas said fear and adrenaline likely contributed to the violent incident, but she said citizens should avoid taking matters into their own hands if they witness a crime.

"We don't want to see anything in excess, nor does anybody else," Thomas said. "That is why when we received information about the video,  one, we requested it to be taken down from Facebook immediately and two, it gave us more understanding about what happened."

Mount Dora police said they turn the video over to the State Attorney's Office to determine if charges will be filed against any of the witnesses who are seen subduing Thornhill in the video.

Thornhill is charged with first-degree premeditated murder and five counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

About the Authors:

Nadeen Yanes joined News 6 as a general assignment reporter in 2016. She grew up in Leesburg and graduated from the University of Florida. Nadeen has won three Associated Press Awards for her reporting on the Pulse Nightclub shooting, the trial of the Pulse gunman's wife and the capture of an accused cop killer, Markeith Loyd.